NBA Rumors: Chris Paul's Exit Near As New Orleans Hornets Sign Jerryd Bayless?

Rich FernandesCorrespondent IOctober 25, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 27:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets in action during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on January 27, 2010 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Is the New Orleans Hornets acquisition of PG Jerryd Bayless from the Portland Trailblazers a sign of Chris Paul’s imminent departure?

Last week I wrote an article on The 10 Reasons Why Chris Paul Will Demand a Trade.  My justification was simple and self evident: Paul is a winner on an average team that is filled with uncertainty.  When asked during a recent interview of the window of opportunity he has to win a title, Paul had this to say:

“It’s always wide open, but every year that goes by, it closes just a little bit. You don’t have an unlimited number of years in this NBA. Anybody will tell you that. A guy like Peja (Stojakovic, at age 33, entering his 13th season without a championship on his resume) will tell you his window is closing. 

"You only have so many years in your legs and so many years on your body. So you’ve got to win when you can. Me? To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have thought it would take this long. I’ve always won at any level. So I’m going to keep competing.”

Paul's ultimate goal is to win a championship and all the back to back max contracts in the world will not matter if the team is not capable of winning the championship.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it is important to ask the following question:  Where will the Hornets fit in Paul's plans and as a result, where will Paul fit in the Hornets plans? 

Most people in the Big Easy think Paul will be gone as unsettling as it is for them to admit, so a trade now makes better sense for the Hornets organization than to face the uncertainty of Paul's free agency.  

Indeed, some might argue that Paul has no leverage, but that is really a matter of perspective.

Jerryd Bayless remains an unproven starter in the NBA, but this young lottery pick (11th in the first round) in 2008 after just one year at Arizona State has tremendous potential.  While his tenure in Portland was relegated to the bench, one could argue that it was because of the Blazer’s depth at the PG spot. 

Whatever the case may be, this point guard is not unfamiliar to Hornets’ head coach Monty Williams whom was an assistant coach with Portland last year.  Williams undoubtedly figured into the Bayless acquisition.

Is Bayless close to Chris Paul’s talent zip code at the point guard slot?  Absolutely not, but he does have so much upside that under the right coach (a Monty Williams if you will), could blossom into a top 10 PG in the NBA. He is still only 22-years-old.

Hornets’ rookie GM Dell Demps has been proactive in his role of assembling this team with new pieces and with the purpose of upgrading the franchise’s competitive status.  So far Demps’ manipulation from the top looks superb on paper as the Hornets appear head and shoulders above their former selves. 

Consequently, by acquiring Bayless, Demps has crowded the situation at the point guard which now consists of Chris Paul, Jerryd Bayless and Curtis Jerrells.  That was until Jerrells was waived on Sunday marking an extremely short stay with the club.

What will Demps’ next move be based on what we know?

The New Orleans Hornets are a young team with several pieces that represent long-term gains over a rebuilding process that is currently underway. 

Chris Paul wants to be part of a winner and not a rebuilding process.  CP3 will enter free agency in the summer of 2012.  In that time it is doubtful that the Hornets can become a top five championship team and title contender, which would leave Paul with a question come free agency:  Should I stay or should I go?

While Paul might choose to stay, there are many that would bet the bank on him leaving.  It’s certainly not the preferred scenario for Hornets fans, but rather the most likely one.

Therefore, would it not be prudent for Demps to trade this marquis player now while simultaneously getting exceptional trade value in return, rather than face an uncertain Chris Paul free agency situation?

What could the New Orleans Hornets obtain in return for Chris Paul?  They would probably receive a ton of draft picks and quality first rate players. 

How much could a trade involving Chris Paul improve the Hornets’ in the process of building an NBA championship contender almost immediately?  If done properly, the answer would be most significantly.

A CP3 trade represents a plethora of intriguing possibilities on a return on investment that could perpetually invigorate the Hornets.  Compare this with the possibility of losing Paul to free agency with nothing in return, which would certainly be enough to tank the Hornets franchise in the Big Easy.

These are extenuating circumstances for the New Orleans Hornets, as well as its GM Dell Demps, to say the least.